UConn vs. No. 10 Villanova

UConn vs. No. 10 Villanova | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on February 18, 2021

Villanova’s odds to win the national championship have gotten a bit higher following a loss to Creighton last time out, but the No. 10 Wildcats still control their destiny to win the Big East and will be home favorites on the NCAAB odds Saturday vs. UConn.

How to Bet Connecticut at Villanova NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, 1 PM ET
  • Where: Finneran Pavilion
  • TV: Fox
  • Stream: Fox Sports Go
  • Radio: Tunein.com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: TBA (Villanova will be favored)

Last Meeting

The teams were supposed to meet two different times at UConn but both were postponed so they apparently will only play this once. Last year, they also played just the once and Villanova won 61-55 at home when it was ranked No. 14 and the Huskies unranked. Nova’s Jermaine Samuels converted a three-point play with 2:51 left for a 52-51 lead and then buried a 3 with 31 seconds remaining for a four-point lead and the Cats never looked back. Villanova was 11-for-23 from deep.

Why Bet on Connecticut? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

UConn (10-5) welcomed back leading scorer James Bouknight from injury on Tuesday and beat Providence 73-61 – just a week ago, the Huskies had lost 70-59 to Providence without Bouknight.

Bouknight scored 18 points in his return Tuesday and junior guard Tyrese Martin matched Bouknight’s 18 and added seven rebounds. Bouknight’s 18 came on 7-13 shooting in 24-minutes as he saw his first game action since January 5.  He also snared four rebounds and recorded two thefts.  Martin was outstanding in 36-minutes as his 18 points came on 8-16 shooting. Junior point guard R.J. Cole chipped in with 13 points and dished-out five assists.

A 14-2 run gave UConn a 51-36 lead with 13:42 to go.  The spurt was keyed by seven points from Cole and UConn never looked back. The Huskies shot 47 percent from the floor and 42 percent from deep and held a commanding 42-32 advantage on the glass.  UConn also dominated in the paint, outscoring the Friars 46-28 and held a 13-7 edge on the fast break.

“I’m just happy that he’ll be healthy and finish the season,” coach Dan Hurley said of Bouknight. “UConn fans deserve to see him play to end his career here. He deserves to get to wear this uniform. He’s really elevated us.”

Playing with his entire roster available for the first time this season, Hurley utilized his depth, as 10 players saw action. Senior Josh Carlton was the most productive reserve, finishing with seven points, a team-best seven rebounds and two blocks after not playing in last Saturday’s win at Xavier.

Why Bet on Villanova? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Villanova (13-3) lost at No. 19 Creighton 86-70 on Saturday. Marcus Zegarowski and Mitch Ballock combined for 45 points and Christian Bishop and Damien Jefferson each had double-doubles as the Bluejays played their most complete game in a month.

CU trailed for the game’s first eight minutes before back-to-back triples by Zegarowski and Ballock gave CU a 21-17 lead it would never surrender. Creighton’s lead would grow as large as 21 on two occasions before Nova ended the game with eight of the final 11 points. Creighton made 59.3 percent of its shots from the floor and 12-of-26 three-pointers (46.2 percent).

The Jays overcame an early rebounding hole to win that category 33-31, and also had 16 assists against just nine turnovers. Creighton outscored Nova 36-20 in the paint. Creighton’s five wins vs. Villanova since 2013-14 are tied with Seton Hall for the most of any team nationally in that span of the 80 schools to play the Wildcats.

The 86 points were the most surrendered by the Wildcats in 2020-21. The only prior time they allowed more than 80 points (81) came in an overtime loss to Virginia Tech on Nov. 28. Justin Moore led Villanova with 21 points while Jermaine Samuels added 16 points and six rebounds.

“It was not one of our better efforts,” Nova coach Jay Wright said. “We had a real tough time guarding them. Their speed and movement offensively really was difficult for us to guard. We knew coming here that we had to get better defensively. It was pretty obvious.”

Villanova, in the estimation of its head coach, remains a work in progress at the defensive end. The Wildcats rank last in the Big East in Field Goal Percentage Defense and 10th in 3-Point Percentage Defense.

On Monday, sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was chosen as the Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Week. Robinson-Earl averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in a 1-1 week for the Wildcats.

As for Saturday’s game, Villanova leads the series 36-31 vs. UConn and hasn’t lost to the Huskies since 2014.

Expert Prediction

  • Villanova 73, Connecticut 66
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